Biography:George W. Allen

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George W. Allen

 Given name:     George
 Middle name:     W.
 Family name:     Allen
 Place of birth:     
 Place of death:     
 Year of birth:     
 Year of death:     
 Profile:     Composer, Musician
 Source of information:     

Biographical notes

Nothing has come to light regarding who George W. Allen was, where he lived or the circumstances in which he compiled this remarkable collection. His handwritten manuscripts "Clogs, Hornpipes, Reels & Jigs" were probably written during the 1880's (at the earliest, after 1872, as there are pages that bear the mark "Carl Fischer, New York", a firm that began publishing music that year). There are two separate manuscripts, one with just the melody line, and another for piano, with a simple piano accompaniment included. The keys of the tunes are sometimes different in the piano volume; for example, "Jackson's Clog" is in 'D' major in the melody line manuscript, and in 'F' major in the piano manuscript. The piano volume has 128 tunes transcribed, while the melody-line manuscript has 102 tunes.

There are a few tune titles that reference New York ("Coney Island," "City Island" and "On the Elevated." There seems to be an increase in Irish-titled and Irish-sounding tunes from the middle of the book on, while the first part of the book seems devoted to hornpipes and clogs that mirror the Straight Jig/clog/hornpipe/schottische type tunes that were popular in the 1880's, particularly for stage dancers. It is only later that he introduces jigs and reels, along with the growing Irish music influence. Also, the MS. appears to have been added to over time, for while the musical notation is in the same hand, it is larger beginning with tune 121.

It is possible that George W. Allen is the same person who was a salesman, and then president of the Milton Piano Company in New York [1]. He is mentioned as living in Stoney Point, Connecticut, and there is a tune in the MS. called "Stoney Point" [see paragraph below, where his home town is given as "Stony Creek"]. However nothing further suggests this individual is the George W. Allen who authored the MSS.

The Music Trade Review (vol. LVII, No. 2, Nov. 22, 1913) has a little more information on piano-salesman Allen, including his middle name:

A Patriot Among Us.

George Washington Allen, who is a prominent citizen of Stony Creek, Conn., and who is also Eastern traveling representative of the Cable-Nelson Piano Co., has returned to the East after a visit to headquarters. Like the "Father of Our Country," for whom Mr. Allen was named, he is a great patriot, and according to Roy Waite, Allen spent much of his time while here in watching the Mexican situation [Ed.--the Mexican Revolution, ca. 1910–20]. It is said that he has already offered his sword to the Government, and no doubt it will be promptly accepted inasmuch as the experience gained by Mr. Allen in the great conflict with Spain will make him a valuable man.